Today we revisit the topic of batteries with Venkat Viswanathan, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
As someone who relatively recently started his journey in electric aviation, Venkat is massively inspired by the challenge and opportunity of electrifying aviation. We sat down to discuss why he is optimistic about 1,000 Wh/kg energy density at the battery pack level becoming commercially available in the next 10-15 years, a goal that many of his fellow battery experts find tough to believe.
However, this is not a “boring” lesson in battery chemistry. We talked about what it takes to commercialize new battery chemistries and who will carry the burden of funding new R&D to improve battery energy and power densities now that there is no incentive to pursue such efforts by the automotive industry.
Listen also how Venkat describes the AND problem, which stands for the challenge for batteries to achieve both high energy density and also high power density, and how hybrid batteries with different chemistries might help solve this challenge. We also talked about the differences between batteries for VTOL vs CTOL aircraft, about the different and sometimes conflicting requirements for different types of aircraft and missions, about innovation in non-destructive diagnostics to figure out power and energy remaining, and also about how generative AI can accelerate the development of new battery chemistries.